I took off from O’Hare around 7:30pm after enjoying a lovely farewell lunch/dinner with Pete at the Ram near where I used to work (where he still does). I was incorrectly told I needed to wait in a long Qatar Airways line (even though I questioned it), but was sent to a much shorter line when I progressed as far as a second “official” who actually knew what she was talking about. The TSA line was hell, as always. By comparison, getting through customs in Doha was like a warm knife in butter.
The flight was pretty darned booked up. I didn’t really talk with the people sharing my area – not sure if they knew English. But they seemed nice anyway. The food on Qatar Airways was phenomenal compared to any other airline food I’ve ever had.
Long flight. One interesting note – the elderly Indian couple sitting across the aisle from me never put on their seat belts and no one ever said a word.
Hamad Airport was huge, clean, gorgeous, and pretty much empty.
I eventually figured out how to get some local money and a public bus that connected to another bus that ultimately got me to the area of the hotel. It was pretty scary. I thought Chicago bus drivers were nuts – these guys … I have no idea how they are not constantly hitting one another. There was crazy (rush hour?) traffic when I was on the bus and everyone (including the bus drivers) were darting in and out, slamming on the gas and brake, all over the place. I got a little banged up.
Despite the “ladies area” on the bus, I was the only female presenting person on the first bus and there were only two others on the second bus (they were together and sat in the first row – they seemed of Southeast Asian descent). Another weird thing. It was completely dark out by 7 pm – checked the internet and sunset was at 6. Wasn’t expecting that.
I got checked in and puttered around my room deciding whether I wanted to brave the still oppressive heat, my increasing weariness, the darkness and the crazy drivers to go out again tonight. Eventually decided against it and went to the hotel and had a nummy eggplant hors d’oeuvre dish. Now I’m getting ready for bed. Hope the heat doesn’t keep me from doing the things I have planned for tomorrow. I have a lot more respect for the soldiers who serve(d) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even basic living in the gulf has got to be incredibly challenging if you are not used to this heat – let alone the horrific war stuff.